When winter break means five weeks of physically demanding practice like the wrestling team endured, starting classes probably doesn’t seem like the end of the world. In fact, according to head coach David Icenhower, the College’s wrestling team may be looking forward to starting classes.
“We’ve had a great five-week break and worked the kids really hard,” Icenhower said. “So I think our kids can’t wait for class to start.”
Despite all the hard days of practice, the College did not need many actual days over the break to assert its place among the nation’s top NCAA Division III teams. Regardless of competing on just five days over break, the College racked up an impressive 8-1 dual meet record.
The Lions earned first place at the Budd Whitehill Duals and went 3-1 at the North/South Duals, as well as having 10 Lions place at the non-team-scored Sunshine Open.
Senior Mike Guenther led the way for the Lions with a perfect 3-0 record on the day. The 165-pounder is ranked fourth nationally with an overall record of 22-2 and a dual-meet record of 10-0. Junior Ray Sarinelli is ranked seventh in the nation with an overall record of 23-5.
The team is ranked 11th in the Brute/National Wrestling Coaches Association Division III team rankings and owns an 11-1 dual meet record. The College captured the title at the Budd Whitehill Duals at Lycoming College on Jan. 13 by defeating top-seeded and No. 7 nationally ranked SUNY-Cortland 22-13.
“I think the Whitehill Duals was really impressive because it was such a team effort,” Icenhower said. “Cortland had a great record going in and they were highly thought of. We had a bunch of injuries and had some kids move up weights so we were definitely the underdogs against Cortland. We had some people doing things they normally didn’t have to do.”
Trailing 9-3 after three matches, the College reeled off four consecutive wins, including a 12-3 major decision by senior Joe Galante at 157 pounds, to build a 16-9 lead that was not to be surmounted. When the Red Dragons closed the gap to three, wins by sophomore Greg Osgoodby at 197 pounds and junior Steve Carbone at heavyweight cemented the title.
Osgoodby was bumped up to wrestle at 197 pounds from his listed weight of 174 pounds. Replacing Osgoodby at 174 pounds was freshman 157-pounder Dan Dicolo, who won a key 4-2 overtime decision over sixth-ranked sophomore Treavor LeBlanc.
“Dicolo wrestled an unbelievable match and upset the sixth-ranked guy in the nation in overtime,” Galante said. “To win the Budd Whitehill Duals with such a young team and missing some starters made me very proud to be a part of (Lions) wrestling. I’ve been on the team for three years now and we have never won that tourney and we’ve had better teams. But this team dug deep and had some guys step up when we needed them to and we got the job done.”
Compared to its nine-point victory over SUNY-Cortland, the College pulled off a narrow 22-20 semifinal victory over No. 22 Ithaca College.
Going into their last match trailing 20-19, the Lions looked to an injured Carbone. He earned a 3-1 decision, pushing his season record to 21-7 and sending the College into the finals.
“Because of the injures, we had 197-pounder junior Shawn (Vanwingerden) and heavyweight (Carbone) both hurt and we didn’t use them unless we had to. Because of the way they matched up with us it came out pretty close,” Icenhower said.
To reach the semifinals, the College went 3-0 on the tournament’s first day, Jan. 12. The College opened by downing Wabash College (25-12) and went on to defeat Rochester Institute of Technology (32-18) and John Carroll University (23-18).
Five Lions wrestlers boasted perfect records at the two-day tournament. Sarinelli (133 pounds), senior Mike Guenther (165 pounds) and Osgoodby went 5-0, winning in each of the team’s five dual meets. Freshman Tyler Branham (149 pounds) and Galante each went 4-0.
The team title was the College’s first at the Budd Whitehill Duals since 2003 and its eighth in the tournament’s 13-year history.
The College convincingly won three of the four dual meets at the North/South Duals on Jan. 6 in Collegeville, Pa., but lost to No. 2 seeded Wartburg College 34-4. The defeat was the College’s first loss in dual meets this season.
The team began the day by defeating Trinity College 42-11 and then bested Plymouth State University 32-3 and Wesleyan College 27-6.
Sophomore 149-pounder Jon Biango, Sarinelli, Branham and Carbone all finished at 3-1.
At the highly competitive Sunshine Open in Lakeland, Fla. on Dec. 28-29, the Lions had two second place finishers. Galante went 4-1 over the two-day individual tournament and placed second at 157 pounds, suffering his second loss of the season in the finals to Heidelberg College’s sophomore Aaron Johnhenry by a 5-4 score. Galante is currently 19-2.
Dicolo placed fifth in the same weight class. Carbone also placed second at heavyweight with a 3-1 tournament mark while falling to fourth-ranked senior Andrew Neumann of Augsburg College 4-1 in the finals.
Biango placed third at 149 pounds with a 4-1 tournament record. Osgoodby placed fourth at 174 pounds and sophomore Tom Roberto took sixth at 125 pounds.
The Lions had three wrestlers place in the 141-pound weight class. Branham finished fourth while sophomores Chris Prihoda and Bill Tenpenny took fifth and sixth place, respectively.
While many college students measure their winter breaks by relaxation or time with friends, the wrestling team defined its break with impressive performances.
“The kids have worked very hard and it was a great culmination of the break to beat a team as highly thought of as Cortland is,” Icenhower said.
The Lions take on Centenary College at Phillipsburg High School tomorrow at 5 p.m. They return home to host the New England Duals on Saturday and Springfield College on Sunday, both at noon.